IBC 2023: Ecosystem-wide Integration, Collaboration and Optimization Offers Key to Accelerating the Path to XR Experience Adoption
As it stands today, the outlook for this market is already bright. According to new research by global technology intelligence firm ABI Research, nearly 40 million AR smart glasses will ship by 2027. The total augmented and mixed reality market will surpass $220 billion in the same year.
Meanwhile, consumer spending on the VR segment alone is expected to reach a staggering $20 billion in 2027, according to Omdia's Consumer VR Headset and Content Revenue Forecast.
Realizing – and perhaps surpassing – these forecasts, however, will require a higher level of coordination and collaboration than is taking place today, says Dhananjay (DJ) Lal, Senior Director of advanced research and development for media intellectual property and technologies with Adeia, in an interview for journalists.
Extended reality, or XR, is an umbrella term for computer-generated mediums that can create virtual environments and integrate them with our physical world to create new user experiences. It is the union of multiple technologies such as 3D gaming engines, volumetric and light field capture, low latency transmission, edge computing, virtual reality, augmented reality, holographic displays and more.
"XR has been used in different ways over the past decade as software and technology companies developed their own devices, platforms and apps to create or enable immersive experiences for gaming, media consumption and general-purpose or work-related applications. It typically involves the integration of devices, which can range from extremely sophisticated headsets and consoles to smartphones and commercially available eyewear," explains Lal.
The market today, however, is highly fragmented. Companies in this sector are inclined to focus on specific ecosystem segments.
"For example, manufacturers may improve computing performance to maximize user experiences with their consoles. Other companies may focus on integrating apps and platforms to deliver interactive content on their platforms. Still others have focused on the role of networks in providing the enabling connectivity that makes it possible to interact with cloud-based services and engage with other remote users," he says.
Few have focused on creating an open value chain that opens the door for organizations – and users – to participate in the content capture, distribution and consumption of XR experiences.
As a result, the market is composed of islands of activity that cannot integrate with each other. This has served to limit the potential of XR. It creates a zero-sum game that limits the growth of the market. Unless consumers have significant disposable income, they are forced to choose from a short list of proprietary offerings.
"These hardware purchases often lead to software platform lock-in, resulting in limited choices for content consumption. It prevents the broader market from having cost-effective access to the vast array of available innovations and offerings," he says.
All key players, he suggests, will have to come together if XR experiences are to flourish and fulfill the market's full potential.
"Device makers, content creators, audio and video compression technologists, 5G and broadband network operators, streaming service providers, edge computing manufacturers – even players active in AI and machine learning – must coexist, coordinate and collaborate on standards-based principles to enable the best end-user experiences,"
The good news is that this has begun to happen.
There is growing momentum around initiatives like OpenXR, a royalty-free standards community for VR and AR platforms for developing content that is agnostic of the underlying target device. It is advocated by a working group managed by the Khronos Group consortium. Formats like USD (Universal Scene Description)
"A growing number of industry leaders in the segment support these initiatives, as they advocate for coordination and collaboration to bridge gaps that enable cross-platform communication and connection. In the meantime, it is important to acknowledge the XR is still in its infancy, and therefore subject to incremental and potentially disruptive innovations. The need of the hour is not to specify mature standards, but to foster collaboration among organizations that are working on similar problems. This entails specifying open interfaces, even as organizations compete for technical superiority. Sometimes, this may mean open-sourcing software with basic capabilities to the community of practice, while reserving a more advanced version of the software in the proprietary domain," concludes Lal.
To read the full Q&A with DJ Lal, please visit: